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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tutorial for needle holder

First up I want to say I could have done this better; more piecing and the triangular needle-holders would have looked better; but I didn't plan that far ahead.  Continuous binding would have been better too; hindsight is definitely a good thing; next time I will make changes to include these observations.  Overall though I'm quite happy with it; it does the job nicely and you only notice the edges of the triangles if you look closely.

The important bits first:

Finished size for mine was 39.5" long and 10.5" wide, including binding.  I use a combination of imperial and metric measurements as I go, sorry, that's just how I am.

Materials required:
Foreground fabric - prewashed
Batting (I used a polyester batting that was fairly firm)
Backing fabric - prewashed
Scrappy bits to make the triangles
Binding (I used more of the backing fabric)
Dowel about 2.5" longer than your quilt is wide; I used one that was about the thickness of a pencil.

Tools required:
Sewing machine
Freemotion or darning foot
Walking foot is handy, but not a must have
Snap press.   I have a Kam snap press which I use on the resin snaps; you could use the plier type on the metal ones instead.

1.  Press your backing and foreground fabric.   When I say press I mean place the iron on the fabric after smoothing it with your hands, lift it and place again next to where you started; keep doing this till the whole thing is pressed.   Don't iron (sliding the iron around the fabric) as this can take your fabric off grain which is a bad thing.   This is my ironing station; it's kept in the sewing room and consists of an ancient ironing board with a Singer steam station; which is brilliant!   I also have a steam press on the other side of the room, but that's not normally used for quilting.

2. Lay batting on backing, then foreground fabric over the top of the batting and pin all 3 layers together, sandwiching the batting in between the other 2 layers. 

3.  Trim close to size; my batting was cut square at the quilt shop; and I did check before trimming my fabrics to slightly bigger than the batting.

4.  If your scraps haven't already been prewashed then steam press them to preshrink the fabric.  Mine hadn't been washed so I did this; it means that if I have to wash the needle holder for any reason the fabrics have already been shrunk so there won't be any puckering.

5.  At this point I paused in my endeavors to clean and oil my machine.  I like to do this fairly regularly, especially as my machine (which is owned still by Mum) isn't one I can easily replace and parts are no longer available.
I give her a dust on the outside, then I remove the bobbin and clean that area out properly with the brush as you can see.   I put a drop of oil at the bottom of the bobbin casing and then oil all the red bits in the top as well.  A fresh needle, put everything back together and I'm ready to proceed.

Please make sure you take this step before you start a new project; it will keep your machine running smoothly for a lot longer and reduces wear on parts.  This is important for obvious reasons.  I also make sure I turn the machine off at the wall if not in use, these old Bernina's have been known to blow a capacitor in the foot control which then means they will run even if you're not there; this could start a fire and even if it doesn't it's not good for the machine to be run at full speed with no breaks until you hear it and stop it.

6.  Add lots more pins.  I'm using quilters safety pins; they have a curve in them which makes them work really well for thicker items.  I don't want this shifting around as I quilt it.

7.  Other methods for keeping the layers together include quilters basting spray, or you can get tag guns which will work well too.   For larger items I'm tempted to try out the basting spray, otherwise I'll have to buy a whole heap more of the safety pins.

8.  Time to free-motion quilt.  I followed the directions in one of my quilting books which said to drop the feed-dogs and quilt in preferred pattern.  As it was my first time I went random stippling.  Since making this I've found a blog on free-motion quilting which says not to drop the feed dogs as it causes tension issues (you can see that she was right, I've got lots of tension issues on the back in the last photo).   She takes her stitch length to 0 so the feed dogs aren't really doing anything and finds that works much better.  She also has a whole heap of free-motion designs on her website.   I ended up ordering the gloves and teflon sheet that she sells for when I get my King-sized quilt to that point.

9.  Trim quilt to finished size.

10.  Cut binding to 4 times preferred finished width (for 1cm binding, cut 4cm wide).

 11.  Pin binding to edges, right sides together, raw edges matched.

Sew in the same direction for both long edges; this is especially important if you're not using a walking foot as the top layer will tend to walk forward slightly as you sew.  

12.  On right side press batting away from quilt, fold to wrong side.  On the back turn under a small seam allowance to hide the raw edges (making sure that the back binding is slightly wider than the front) and then stitch in the ditch to secure (stitching in the ditch means you're stitching right where the binding meets the quilt; if you're good it shouldn't be easy to spot the sewing; I'm not quite good enough on this, but close).  If your binding is continuous then a mitred corner would be tidier than my corners which I sort of bumbled through.
This part could also be hand-sewn, but I'm too lazy for that.

13.  Cut double the required number of finished tabs.   Mine are 4" square.  We wiull be sewing theses together, then cutting them in half to make the triangle tabs.

14.  Put 2 squares together, right sides facing and stitch all the way around taking 1/4" seams.  A walking foot is very handy here.

I always press seams after stitching to set the stitches in place.   This comes from my clothes sewing background, but I think it's a good idea even for quilting.

15.  Cut each square in half on the diagonal.  I used shears, but it would be more accurate to use a quilting ruler and circular cutter.   I did mention before that I'm lazy, right?

 16.  Trim corners and turn right side out, press.

17.  Choose your snap colour.  I found 3 options I was looking at.   A dark brown, a burgundy and a sky blue.  I ended up going with the dark brown as it seemed to work best to me.

18.  Snap female snaps to triangles.

19.  Lay out triangles how you want on the quilted runner  I'm doing them so the point will be facing up after being sewn; at the moment they look like it's pointing down.  The top ones will touch the binding, there is 1" between each level once complete.   Measure and pin in place.  I used a quilters ruler to keep them parallel. 
Sew 1/4" from raw edge.

Trim those corners you see sticking out and then press triangles towards top.  Keep the iron away from the snaps; it will melt them (whoops!)
Stitch just inside the edge of the triangle bottom; this will keep it facing the right way and also help stop the raw edge from doing anything silly.
It also makes it look tidier; see?

20.  Measure mounting sleeve, you want this on before doing the male snaps on the main section.  I cut the mounting sleeve the same width as the quilt, it will end up 1/2" narrower after seaming.  The length needs to be 8 times the finished depth.   In my case it was 8"x10.5".
Fold lengthwise, right sides together and stitch a 1/4" seam.  Trim corners, turn right side out and press.

21.  Pin to back of quilt with raw edges even with binding stitching.   From right side stitch 1/4" away from stitching on quilt body side (not on binding side).   Make sure not to catch the triangular flaps, and using thread to match the front of the quilt.
You can see here where I'm sewing.
Press up, stitch on binding stitching line from right side; this is the wrong side showing here; this is hiding the raw edges.
Turn down again but not all the way this time, and stitch on the binding line again, making sure to allow enough room for your dowel to be inserted.  This gives a nice stable hanging sleeve as you can see.   You could do this by hand instead if you didn't want the sewing showing on the right side.   I'm sure there's a better way to do it, but I was just going for it at this point; the end was in sight!

22.  Lay the quilt flat and mark the positions of the male snaps; I used a water soluble marker, but it doesn't really matter as the snaps will hide any mark.   I usually put my snap cap through the fabric manually at the mark instead of just letting the snap press do it.  I find this means I get the right spot more easily and also it definitely goes all the way through the fabric which is something that doesn't always happen if you just dump the whole thing in the press.   I've had snaps and fabric damaged before doing it that way.  If the snap doesn't want to get through, try using a tailors awl to poke the hole in the fabric first; don't make it too big though!

23.  Iron on size labels.   I used my Dymo Letratag to make my labels.  The smaller sizes which I have lots of sock needles in had 2 tags each; one for longer ones and one for shorter ones; the bigger needles I don't have many fixed circulars for so they got one each.

24.  Hang, add your needles and admire!   Mine's on the back of the sewing room door, there wasn't anywhere else to put it. 


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